You Don’t Know Me

This is something that I hear fairly often. I hear it in my real world job of teaching adolescents. “You don’t know me. You don’t understand where I’m coming from.” It’s a fairly common adolescent attitude-the belief that they are singular beings in the universe and that no one (parents, teachers, friends) could ever understand how they feel. And yet, somehow, in the midst of that belief, they also believe that certain artists (lyricists, writers, painters etc) do get them. Those distant abstract people GET them. It’s just those of us who are real and tangible to them who don’t get them.

It’s also something that I’m seeing more and more in the blogosphere and in comments on blogs. “You don’t know me. You only read my blog. You don’t see my real life.” I suppose that’s fair enough. If you’re reading my blog, you don’t know what I had for dinner tonight. You don’t know what books are piled up on my bookshelves waiting for me to put the laptop and the lesson planning away so I can read something fun. You don’t know what I did after work today. You only read my blog. You only see what I let you see.

And there’s the proverbial rub. I control the content of this blog. I give you all the information you have about me. You know that I knit. You know that I’m a teacher, that I love to read, that I drink coffee and tea, that I love Jesus, that I tend to rant and ramble. That’s what I let you see. I don’t tell you about all of my minute conversations that I have in the course of my day. I only give you a partial picture of myself, not the whole thing.

And that’s fine. I don’t want to give you all of that information. You don’t really need it. But if you make a snap judgment about me based only on the content of my blog, I can’t fault you for that. Well, okay, I suppose that I could, but I shouldn’t. I haven’t given you all of the information about me.

As human beings, we only have a limited amount of access to one another. We don’t know everything about one another. And this can lead to us making mistakes. We can say or do the wrong thing without knowing the hurt that we are causing one another. We make mistakes. We’re fallible.

So yes, it hurts when someone judges us and we feel that the judgment is incorrect. But we need to recognize that we don’t all have unlimited access to each other’s lives. We don’t all know what struggles others are fighting. So instead of snapping back in anger (something that I am quite guilty of in my own life) please take a moment to take a breath. And be kind to others. We may not know you, but each of us ought to treat one another with kindness and decency. 


One thought on “You Don’t Know Me

  1. Ahhh…. but combine the content of your blog with your METADATA, and someone – an agent – COULD have a much more complete picture of you. It is simplicity itself to connect your blog to your facebook account. Even assuming that this agent was forced to respect your facebook privacy settings (a bad assumption), your friend list would provide a rich tapestry of information, not simply in terms of what your FB friends may post under less restrictive privacy settings, but also in the very connections themselves. How do you think Facebook figures out “People you may know” and “Suggested Groups”? And of course, there are your group memberships as well, which are not under any privacy settings except for closed groups. The implications along this line of reasoning should be obvious. But there is another whole aspect to consider

    Even outside of your official online social networks, there is a wealth of information to be had about you online. By tracking IP addresses and network traffic, a dataminer can figure out what websites you visit, even after you have logged out of all your online accounts. Because this is based on information passing through routers and hubs – without which there would be no “net” in internet, and not on markers stored on your computer, diligently deleting your cookies will not prevent this data collection from happening. (Though that is still the best defence against less-well-equiped ne’er do wells). Think that that fun online personality survey is anonymous? Not for the well-equiped dataminer!

    Do you have a phone? Once your online blog as been connected to a real person, all your communication can be tracked. Texts can be outright stolen by subpoena. Contents of voice calls are not (currently) recorded for the average person, but simply knowing who you call, and who calls you, provides a great deal of information about who your closest contacts are, and if you all might be planning something. Phones are also great for tracking someone’s location. With GPS, it can be exact. Without GPS, it can still be to the nearest cell tower. Think “Disabling” GPS in your settings prevents GPS from being used? Think again. If it can be automatically reactivated for 911 calls, it can be reactivated for other reasons as well. Think turning your phone off will prevent it from being tracked by GPS or cell tower? Think again. Electronics can be made to appear off while still running background functions. If you want to escape the map for awhile, you need to pull the battery out. And sometimes a backup battery as well, that you probably didn’t know you had.

    So now that the spy living in your phone has been neutralized, you think you’re safe? Nope. More and more intersections have video cameras. Most are installed for the benign purpose of reporting the traffic. Some communities use them to automatically issue tickets for running reds or blowing past stop signs. Facial recognition software is used to suppliment the snapshot of the license plate, so the tickets will hold up in court. If you synchronize the clocks at different intersections, you can automatically issue speeding tickets as well. So now this agent knows who you talk to, and where you go. They also know who else goes to those same locations, with whom you might be exchanging words or materials.

    Do you use any credit card, debit card, or participate in any shopper rewards programs? The agent now knows what you buy, and where, and when, and in what quantities.

    And I cannot even begin to do justice to the work that is being carried out by insurance companies regarding medical data and driver data. I can only imagine the future lawsuits when HR departments and staffing firms start to add in their data.

    So the response to “You don’t know me!” is a resounding “Yes, WE do. And WE shall sit in judgement on you, for WE have surmised your motives, and do not have to wait for your actions to be acted out in order to condemn you.” And that Great WE which is men acting in cooperation – be it the civil government or corporations, shall act with the arrogance of gods, but unlike our true God, it is doubtful that these agents of the law shall likewise subject themselves to the law.

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